Refuseniks in World Cup talks

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The Independent Online
Cricket

A last-minute attempt is to be made to resolve the dispute over Australia's and West Indies' refusal to play their World Cup games in Sri Lanka following the Colombo bomb that killed 76 people and injured around 1,400.

The organising committee of the 12-nation tournament, Pilcom, have arranged a meeting in Calcutta on Saturday - one day before the opening ceremony. Australia, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the three host countries - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - will attend, along with Sir Clyde Walcott, the chairman of the International Council.

More trouble for the tournament came yesterday from the New Zealand umpire Steve Dunne, who may refuse to to control World Cup matches in Sri Lanka. Dunne is due to stand in two of the four games in the county.

Sri Lanka's president, Chandrika Kumaratunga, has assured all players that they would be safe in Colombo and ordered more security for the matches.

Kenya and Zimbabwe, the other two nations scheduled to play in Sri Lanka, said that the bomb attack would not alter their plans.

Jagmohan Dalmiya, convener of the organising committee, urged Australia and West Indies to reconsider their decision and offered to fly their players in and out on the day of the games. But he said there was no move to reschedule the matches as demanded by the two teams. "As we have decided earlier, the matches will be held in Sri Lanka as per schedule," Dalmiya said.

In an attempt to step up the pressure, the Sri Lankan foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, has written to his 10 counterparts in the Caribbean urging them to persuade West Indies to reconsider.

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